Australian scientists are going to revive the thylacine (thylacinus cynocephalus), known as the marsupial or Tasmanian wolf.
It was once the only large carnivorous marsupial in Australia. Representatives of this species could be found throughout the continent, but with the beginning of the colonization of the mainland by Europeans, the population of marsupial wolves began to decrease. People exterminated them, protecting livestock, which led to the extinction of the species: the last thylacine died in captivity in 1936.
To “revive” the predator is planned by the joint efforts of the University of Melbourne and the American biotech company Colossal Biosciences. The latter in the past declared its readiness to revive woolly mammoths. The marsupial mammal is planned to be brought back to life using the system CRISPR. More than 30 scientists will work on cloning the thylacine.
The recovery process will not be easy. First, researchers need to create a detailed genome of an extinct mammal and compare it with the DNA of its closest living relative, the fat-tailed marsupial mouse (Sminthopsis crassicaudata). Next, they use living mouse germ and stem cells and will change all parts of the genome that are different from the marsupial wolf. After that, it will be possible to create an embryo that the mouse can carry.
Differences in the size of animals should not be scared. Marsupials are born very tiny, so that a small marsupial mouse can become a surrogate parent for a larger thylacine.
According to Andrew Pask, head of the scientific team, the first marsupial wolf puppies will appear in 10 years. Other project participants have even more optimistic expectations. Ben Lam, head of Colossal Biosciences, believes that we will see the first cubs of the Tasmanian wolf in 6 years. If all goes well, the animals will be returned to their native habitat – Australian Tanzania.